Jalen Mills' roommate at LSU didn't really get to start until he was a senior, but whenever he made it onto the field, he made things happen, Mills recalled Wednesday.
" 'Debo' had to wait his turn, but really, from freshman year all the way through junior year, you can go back and look at the film, he always got a tackle for a loss," Mills said. "He'd come in for one play, get a tackle for a loss, and coaches would take him right back out," in deference to another player who lived in their dorm suite, starting linebacker Kwon Alexander, who now plays for Tampa Bay.
The one-play-at-a-time roommate, Deion Jones, now gets to stay on the field all the time for the Atlanta Falcons, who visit Lincoln Financial Field Saturday for a divisional round playoff matchup. Jones, a second-round pick in 2016 who jumped right into the starting lineup, has been a major catalyst of the second-half surge that got the Falcons back into the playoffs. He was NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his interception of Drew Brees sealed a Week 14 victory over the Saints.
"Once he got his shot his senior year, it was pick-sixes, he was a 100-plus tackler, goes to the pro day and runs [4.38], which we all knew he could do. I definitely saw" that Jones would be an NFL star, Mills said.
Mills, now an Eagles starting cornerback, said Jones called him the day after Atlanta's wild-card victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
"I kind of messed with him about the weather," Mills said. "It was about 20 degrees at the time. I told him he'd better bring a hoodie and some sweatpants. … He's happy that both of us are in this position. This has always been a dream for both of us, since we were 17, 18 years old."
Jones, 6-foot-1, 222, led the Falcons this season with three interceptions. His nickname combines the names of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson.